Let's start off by defining the core differences between these two options:
What is crowd-funding?
As defined by Wikipedia crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. Crowdfunding is a form of crowdsourcing and of alternative finance
What is equity?
Wikipedia defines equity as the value of an ownership interest in property, including shareholders' equity, in a business. Equity or shareholders' equity is part of the total capital of a business.
Even in the earliest stages of Lost & Found, I had a number of people asking me about investing in exchange for equity. Looking back, I see that I could have easily raised the $7500 needed to get the first cart operating had I just sold 15-20% of the business and turning down that kind of money was a difficult decision.
One of the first decisions I made after coming up with the cart idea was that I would not give a single percent of equity away or take a loan from a financial institution. I never wanted a business decision to be determined by my need to repay a loan or to be beholden to a group of investors.
I've learned about crowdfunding by supporting other campaigns started by people I know and others that I've never met but admired their project and drive. The idea of funding a business from grassroots support provides freedom for the founder(s) and also helps build community support before the idea can be fully materialized.
Ideas are everywhere. It seems like once or twice a week I am hearing about a new business idea popping up just in the Indianapolis area. How are we supposed to sort through which of these businesses will "make it" and which ones won't leave the conversation in which they were conceived? Crowdfunding helps weed through ideas that could have otherwise been forced through with a big-pocket investor. Raising money from a community is a democratic way for a group of people (future customers) to support an idea in exchange for a reward before the company is fully formed and operational. Donating a few dollars or buying a perk through our Indiegogo campaign is a way of saying "I like this idea and I want it to succeed."
Community-Driven support leads to community-driven success. Crowd-funding allows me to do some research on markets that I wouldn't have considered selling to and also allows me to market the new company through a shareable social community. Crowd-funding is as much a social media mission as it is a financial one which is why I've said time and again that people sharing on their social accounts is as valuable as donating a few dollars (although the money is quite helpful!).
Lost and Found's first coffee cart is on the timeline of the community. To me, this is more exciting than it is anxiety producing because it means the business will only open when the customers are ready rather than the other way around. If you are a local business or freelancer that would like to support a new company, please consider our Corporate Sponsorship program or perhaps you are a decision-maker for your organization or an event planner, in that case, we have an excellent discounted offer to have Lost and Found cater your event! If you are an individual that is interested in supporting Lost and Found, I'd encourage you to check out our super soft cotton Tees and diner mugs currently for sale as perks on our Indiegogo campaign. Every little bit helps!
The amount of support we've already received has been enormous, and I couldn't be more thankful for the patrons that have given to the campaign. We still have a long way to go, but I have no doubt that with the help of our community, we will exceed the $7500 goal.